Sharma also has a good piece in The Atlantic. Here’s an excerpt,
As playwright Arthur Miller once observed, “An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted.” Most of the illusions that defined the last decade — the notion that global growth had moved to a permanently higher plane, the hope that the Fed (or any central bank) could iron out the highs and lows of the business cycle — are indeed spent. Yet one idea still has the power to capture the imagination of the markets: that the inexorable rise of China and other big developing economies will continue to drive a “commodity supercycle,” a prolonged upward rise in the prices of commodities ranging from oil to copper and silver, to textiles, to corn and soybeans. This conviction is the main reason for the optimism about the prospects of the many countries that live off commodity exports, from Brazil to Argentina, and Australia to Canada.
I call this illusion commodity.com, for it is strikingly similar in some ways to the mania for technology stocks that gripped the world in the late 1990s. At the height of the dotcom era, tech stocks comprised 30 percent of all the money invested in global markets. When the bubble finally burst, commodity stocks — energy and materials — rose to replace tech stocks as the investment of choice, and by early 2011 they accounted for 30 percent of the global stock markets. No bubble is a good bubble, and all leave some level of misery in their wakes. But the commodity.com era has had a larger and more negative impact on the global economy than the tech boom did.
We’ve long held that many emerging markets have experienced a very positive terms of trade shock with the rise in commodity prices, which is masking structural problems that have never been addressed. Sharma seems to agree.
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